"City Limits" exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko
Interview

Beyond the City’s Limits: In Conversation with Sergio Edelsztein, Curator of the City Limits Exhibition at the Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko

Why is it important to talk about the urban space now and where are the city’s limits? Maria Markiewicz spoke to Sergio Edelsztein, curator of the City Limits exhibition at the Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko, which examines how three female sculptors – Monika Sosnowska, Asta Gröting, and Yael Efrati – respond to architecture and the closed space of a city. What connects their approaches to architecture and is architecture always political? Read more below. 

"City Limits" exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko
“City Limits” exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko
"City Limits" exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko
“City Limits” exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko

Maria Markiewicz: You’ve recently curated City Limits, which is now on view at the Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko. Whose works can we expect to see there?

Sergio Edelsztein: City Limits is an exhibition of three artists: one from Poland (Monika Sosnowska), one from Germany (Asta Gröting), and one from Israel (Yael Efrati). Bringing these three countries together was the premise that came from the director of the Centre in Orońsko and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, who approached me with a proposal. I then came back to them with these three names.

MM: What made you choose these particular artists?

SE: I’ve noticed a connection in their work and thought, why not explore it? Sosnowska, Gröting, and Efrati are all working with fragments, pieces of architecture that are very charged historically and personally and I really like the idea that the exhibition consists of only female artists – normally, when female art is shown in an architectural context, it’s quite domestic. Here, it’s not domestic. It’s very monumental. None of the works on view were made with the artists’ own hands. What is also interesting about this exhibition is that it’s an exterior show – you go into the building, but everything there comes from the outside – exterior walls, staircases, balconies…

"City Limits" exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko
“City Limits” exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko

MM: Although the works at first might seem light and effortless, like they were made and installed with ease, from an architectural perspective, they are very violent and provocative.

SE: You can say that they are violent, but you can also say the opposite – they make architecture feel soft and melty, and there is something optimistic about them. I am thinking here about Sosnowska’s recent works, which almost look like pots with flowers. Her works aren’t about destroying something to make it visual. They are about taking something that is broken, distorted, and using it to create a productive, positive situation.

MM: What about Gröting’s works?

SE: I would say that there is even more violence in her pieces, because they are silicone casts of buildings that were bombed. She’s casting negatives of the bullet holes that are in the walls of these buildings and some of them are very deep. But you’re right, the material is soft, almost like a carpet.

read also

Monika Sosnowska At The Atelier Calder An Interview With Dorota Czerner And Alexander S. C. Rower, President Of The Calder Foundation

Dorota Czerner Sep 22, 2014

During her residency at the Atelier Calder, Monika Sosnowska revisited the theme of the “maquette,” an investigation into issues of scale and perception that she began in 2005. Sosnowska returned to this study in Saché, contrasting models to their final works, but through a new process, in which she ambitiously establishes a direct link with the Atelier Calder’s unique space through scale and materials.

MM: We’ve talked a bit about the materials present within City Limits, but what about the colours?

SE: The materials are interesting and so are the colours – it’s a very monochromatic exhibition. But there are a few touches of colour; one is Yael Efrati’s sea piece, another is a red rod in Monika’s work, and a few red spots in one of Asta’s facades. However, this still remains a very ‘black and white’ show. 

Both Sosnowska and Gröting have these huge facades, and Yael shows a lyrical piece that gives the viewer an idea of looking at the sea through a balcony. Her works are anti-monumental, offering a contrapuntal view to Asta’s and Monika’s pieces.

"City Limits" exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko
“City Limits” exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko

MM: Are there any works that were made specifically for this exhibition?

SE: There is one work by Yael, which was commissioned and made in Orońsko, and one by Asta. She went to this place in Warsaw where they print money [Polish Security Printing Works]. The building still has bullet holes from the Siege of Warsaw and from the war. We took one of the bars from the building, scanned it and 3D-printed it. From this model, we then made bronze, wax, and wooden versions of the pillar in the workshops in Orońsko.

MM: Some people would say that the works that you are showing in City Limits are very abstract, and thus not socially or politically engaged. Would you agree?

SE: It’s a linear, historical narrative since the exhibition starts around World War II. We are then taken to the communist times in Poland and the massive immigration to Israel, where architecture had to face the challenge of social housing having to be built very, very fast. I think that architecture is always political and society-oriented, and this view is present throughout the exhibition.

In one of Yael’s works, for example, she references a typical issue for Tel Aviv’s White City district: bat excrements contaminating white, Bauhaus buildings, making the White City not so white anymore. She also references another interesting feature in these buildings: because they were built by European architects who did not know the country’s climate, there is no proper ventilation. That is why you have all these little tubes hanging everywhere, and under these tubes, there are buckets in which the water from A/C units drips.

"City Limits" exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko
“City Limits” exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko
"City Limits" exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko
“City Limits” exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko
"City Limits" exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko
“City Limits” exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko

MM: What about the title of the exhibition, City Limits?

SE: The title refers to these green signs that you see on the roads when you are leaving a city; where one city ends. We see these in American films. In Europe, it’s indicated differently: with the name of the city crossed. This sign means that you are outside of the city, that you are in another space – the space behind. It’s almost like being in a ‘negative’ part of the city.

MM: Why urbanism and why now?

SE: I think it’s important to talk about the urban sphere right now, because we’re being more and more confined to our homes. Where is the city? How do we get out of our apartments? This exhibition is, in a way, an invitation to think about a whole range of spaces in which we exist – from our bodies to our apartments and through the city. It’s an invitation to go beyond ourselves and beyond the city’s limits.

"City Limits" exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko
“City Limits” exhibition, courtesy by The Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko

CITY LIMITS

Yael Efrati / Asta Gröting / Monika Sosnowska

27 November 2021 – 13 February 2022

Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko

Curator: Sergio Edelsztein

Co-curator: Koanna Kiliszek

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About The Author

Maria
Markiewicz

Aspiring art writer. Born and raised in Poland, she currently lives and studies in London at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Interested in art tackling issues of marginalization, body, sexuality and feminism, she draws inspiration from both European art of the late 90s and emerging European art. She has a background in history of art and critical theory.

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